DongJie, Dongzhi and Winter Solstice

The Chinese Festival Dong Jie for 2011 fall on the 22nd of December. DongJie is Chinese Winter Festival the day when the day is shortest and night is longest for the Northern Hemisphere. It is one of the oldest Chinese Festivals and started around the Shang Dynasty(1600 to 1100BC).

During the Zhou Dynasty(1100 to 256BC) DongJie the Winter Festival was a grand day as it was the Chinese New Year day then. Dong Jie also known as Dongzhi is winter solstice. Winter solstice occurs due to the axial tilt of our planet earth to the sun orbit. Because of this axial tilt the sun “appears” to be travelling from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere and back again yearly. Winter solstice occurs when the sun appears to reach the southernmost extremes of is travel.

DongJie or Dongzhi

DongJie or winter festival fall on Dongzhi day which is winter solstice

The significance of DongJie or Dongzhi is the sun appears to reach the southernmost of its travel and is returning to the northern hemisphere. In Chinese the sun is called Tai-Yang or the greatest yang – the main power source of planet earth. So the returning of Tai-yang is important. Tai-Yang brings Yang-Qi or solar energy with it. Therefore winter will be over soon when Tai-Yang returns to the northern hemisphere. Yang Qi will energize and breathe life on earth and crops will growth again.

During the Han Dynasty Emperor Han Wudi(156 to 87BC) adopted the current lunisolar calender instead of the lunar calender of the Zhou Dynasty. In the lunisolar calender the Chinese New Year day is Lichun which is the beginning of Spring. Dongzhi then became Dong Jie or Winter Festival. DongJie remains the most important festival day to the Chinese as it marks the closing of the lunisolar year before the arrival of the lunisolar Chinese New year day.

Dong Jie or Dongzhi is a family reunion day. Family members working away from home will do their best to be home for the family reunion dinner. The day is celebrated with younger family member greeting the elders and paying respect to their ancestors.

The way Dongjie is celebrated varies from place to place. Generally in the northern part of China family members get together on Dongzhi eve to make Dongjie dumplings, a recipe originated from a prominent Han dynasty physician Zhang Zhongjing. DongJie dumpling is a mixture of mincemeat and herbs in the dumpling boiled in a herbal soup. It was said that during the Han Dynasty Zhang Zhongjing used his simple formula to cure many poor folks from winter sickness.

Tangyuan or glutinous rice ball

Tangyuan or glutinous rice ball in sweet savory broth

In the southern part of China and also in south-east Asia the Chinese prepare Tangyuan during Dongjie, also known as Tangyuan festival. Tangyuan or glutinous rice balls of red and white that symbolize the harmony of Yin-Yang and reunion are prepared on the day. They are usually served in warm sweet broth. Food that keep warm and expel cold are traditionally consumed on Dongzhi.

People like us born and grown up near the equator can’t appreciate winter or feel the coldness of winter solstice. What we have is monsoon and rainy season. However we still celebrate Dong Jie or Dongzhi in keeping with our roots and tradition.

Friends from High Places

Ever wonder how birds and bees select the location or spot to build their nest? :?: Does feng shui play a part in their selection? I sure would be curious to know why? because our house seems to be their target. 8O

Bees tried to build their hive in my backyard. After chasing them off, a few months later, the bees came buzzing back, but this time to the front porch instead, near the skylight. :help: I used the mothball method to chase the bees off. So far so good they have not returned despite the queen bee circling in for a visit couple of months back. :lipssealed:

Last week two little birds came gliding in and out of our porch, tweeting and chirping, giving the illusion of living in the woods, like the Disney cartoons. It was quite enlightening :) ..until we found out what the birds were up to. :roll:

bird constructing nestInitially, we noticed pieces of dried leaves and bits of tissues near the shoe rack. Thinking they must have been blown in by the wind, I just swept them away. Awhile later, there were pieces of twigs and cotton at the same spot. Was wondering why the wind kept bring rubbish to the same spot when some fluttering sound caught my attention. :whistle: I looked up and saw a little bird trying to wound a small twig round the cable of the electric meter. So that’s the little culprit! :naughty:

Well, we welcome the birds visit and singing but setting up their home within our home is something else. Once they’ve flown away, we pulled away twig and leaf to discourage the birds from continuing with their construction. However, no sooner have we gone into the house when the two birds (newly wed I guess) would fly in another piece of material. :| Each time we removed the materials, the birds would fly in new ones. We thought they would relocate their site when disturbed but surprisingly they were not bothered and has been persistently coming back to build at the same spot. :omg:

For two days we played this tug of war with the birds but it didn’t deter them. Finally, my husband decided to openly show our objection. While one of the birds was within view, he removed the twigs. At one point the birds were noisily tweeting as though they were scolding him for interfering with their construction! :phone: After repeating that a couple of times, the birds finally got the message and flew off. :wave: Surely the birds found us most unaccommodating but we just could not permit them building a nest near the power meter. :evil: Imagine how unhygienic with all the birds droppings and saliva besides causing some safety problems too.

By the way, this is also the 2nd visit by the birds. :o Last year a different specie of bird tried weaving its nest at the same spot. That one was more sensitive. When we moved the wire, it took the hint and flew off.

Anyway, directly opposite our house is a small field with quite a number of trees that provide a natural nesting environment for birds and bees. Surely that is anytime a better and more conducive nesting place for my friends from high places than my house! :sneaky:

Shoes Appeal

Life is really funny. :wink:
6ft gateMy left-hand side neighbour has the highest gate and fences in the whole neighbourhood most of our gates are only 3-4ft high whereas his is a towering 6ft. :roll: Our houses are all compact linked 2-storey town-houses so you can imagine how his house sticks out like a chimney in the middle of the long row of houses. Despite all the high security, he’s the only one who had his expensive shoes stolen time and again. :yes:

Each time it happened, he would make a fuss and told me “ Aiyah, so fedup. Last night thieves climbed into my house and stole my shoes – they’re expensive stuffs all my shoes cost about RM400 ~ RM500 per pair and the thief took them all. You better store your shoes properly:mean:

But I told him “Oh, I don’t have expensive shoes like yours so don’t think the thief would be interested.:naughty:

Brokem glassThe first time it happened, he fixed sharp pieces of broken glass on top of the wall besides the gate. :| The 2nd time it apparently happened, he blamed the maid for not locking the gate.

Today, I noticed that his latest security measure was twinning barbed wires to his grills! :omg:
Barbed wires
Honestly, I truly have my doubts about the thefts. :| Why it only happened to him eventhough his house is protected with such “high security” gates and forbidding fences. One interesting point is these thieves only stole his shoes after the risk of climbing over a 6 foot tall gate and fences! :roll: His immediate neighbour never locked his gate and we’ve never heard him complained about his things went missing. Another reason for my doubts (very strong one) is based on a secret his maid shared with me. :sneaky:

One day she smelt dead rat so went sniffing high and low to search it out until she arrived at the shoe rack and discovered that it was from his shoes! She almost puked. :spineyes: And to think that someone kept wanting to steal his shoes! :?: Unless that thief was a pervert addicted to stinking shoes and got lured by such foul aroma otherwise he would have been suffocated even before making his getaway! The mere thought of it had both of us in stitches and laughed until we were in tears :lol: (wonder if his ears were itchy that day). :naughty: If only he knew how we were making fun of him, he would go into fits with anger! :mrgreen: Anyway, his maid has since gone back to Indonesia so it’ll be a buried secret between the maid and I. :lipssealed:

shoe with not takerOn the other hand, this other neighbour had left a pair of shoes on the ledge besides the gate for months yet there were no takers. :no: The pair of shoes were sitting there so pathetically for months, weathering the rain and shine. Even the garbage collectors came and went each day without showing the slightest interest. :cry: Maybe the shoes didn’t look like a RM500 pair of shoes! Or rather because it didn’t smell like dead rat! :naughty: